The nation's flags are flying at half staff today as President Joe Biden mourned the deaths of 1 million Americans from Covid-19. CNN reports that the President is hosting the second Covid-19 Summit at the White House, and president Biden is joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and other officials from across the globe.
Thursday's summit is aimed at "redoubling" efforts to control Covid-19 and preparing the world for future variants of the coronavirus or the next deadly pandemic. This year, Biden entered the summit having been unable to obtain $22 billion in immediate emergency funds that he requested from Congress in March.
Reminding attendees that the pandemic is not yet over, Biden was solemn as he pointed out that the toll in the US leaves "1 million empty chairs around the family dinner table."
COVID-19 has killed more than 999,000 people in the US and at least 6.2 million people globally since it emerged in late 2019, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Other counts, including the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and American Nurses Association, have the toll at 1 million.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 58 percent of the US population has tested positive for coronavirus. About half of these infections occurred during the biggest surge of the pandemic when the Omicron variant was the dominant strain of Covid-19.
The CDC also estimates that 23 million Americans are suffering from the lingering symptoms of coronavirus — a condition referred to as long Covid.
The Washington Post reports that Biden has requested an additional $22.5 billion in what he calls critically needed money to maintain a resolve to respond to the pandemic.
The President also implored the global community "to start working to prevent the next variant, and the next pandemic, now."
The event, which is also co-hosted by Germany, Indonesia, Senegal, and Belize, is calling for countries to invest in the new Global Pandemic Preparedness and Health Security fund at the World Bank, and the US announced that its pledge would increase to $450 million, up from the initially promised amount of $250 million. The fund also added an additional $3.1 billion in new financial commitments from countries worldwide to combat Covid-19.